Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #108 - Evangelicals and MLM; Back to Fundamentals

“Something inside me had dropped away, and nothing came in to fill the cavern.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood


There is a principle of money. It never goes to someone who has more money. It goes to someone who can use it in the best way possible. For, that is precisely what the banks and financial institutions keep doing. They take money from those who cannot use it and give it to those who can.

Many use power to generate more money. Others use money to generate and create power. The smart ones keep the wheel of power and money rolling. Taking the stranglehold of power and money to a level that there is no opposition left for complete domination.

They will still accomplish nothing more than an empty sense of fake orgasm in the end. Yet, it gives a high for the time it lasts.

In the process, though they devastate a lot of people, ideas, enterprises, and ways.

It’s like Walmartization of society and the world. No other enterprise remains intact. Innovation is gone. For some time, people may rejoice this scenario for they are being served lots of unwanted stuff for very cheap. A high and thrill of abundance that really is a lifestyle of creating waste.

Eventually, life will suffer. Innovation, service, communities, and togetherness.

The real things that will matter in life.

There comes a time when you have to find your own balance to fight back this walmartization. How it is to be done is the only question.


from prasad to pastor

During my Master’s program, I had a friend from Punjab who had lived in Bihar. He was a regular at the local temple. He never missed a Tuesday evening temple aarti and would come to offer me the prasad when he returned. He wasn’t the brightest of the students but he did fine. Got a job but wasn’t the most successful. 15 years after the program, when the social media suddenly brought all of us together once again, I found that he had become a pastor in Delhi. He ran a church and had said on his website that he was “saved from a Hindu and Sikh family by Christ.”

It was tough to understand - (1) how a person so seemingly devout was converted (2) and then made to hate what he was most regularly devoted to, or so one thought.

We will come to these questions later. Let us first understand Christ as a “business model.”

evangelicals and MLM

Church Planting Movement (CPM) is raging through India right now and it is specifically on a fast track in Punjab. What might be the reason for its success?

I have often wondered that it may have something to do with its model. An enthusiastic career-oriented guy is hooked. He is paid, a church started for him. He is given objectives in terms of how many numbers he has to get to his church and get the donations. Amongst those he converts he looks for others who are “promising” and that person gets to become the new pastor with his own little church.

And the “movement” grows. Here is this model explained in an illustration. (Source)

Does that sound familiar?

Amway. Multi-level marketing (MLM)!

Yes. And, I am not the only one who has hit upon this similarity. Bruce Gerencser lives in rural Northwest Ohio. He has pastored evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for 25 years. Then he left Christianity. He hit upon the similarity as well.

Several days ago, I wrote a post titled J.A. Medders Asks: What Do You Think Jesus is Doing Right Now?. As I read the comments on this post, I had thoughts about how similar multi-level marketing (MLM) programs are to the various methods and programs Evangelicals use to evangelize people they deem unsaved/lost/unregenerate and headed for hell. 

Another one “Captain Cassidy” writes in Patheos about the similarities as well.

Lately I’ve been reminded anew about just how big the overlap is between MLMs and fundagelical-style Christianity. Today I’ll show you some of those similarities–and we’ll see how easy it is for someone to escape one false and harmful group only to land smack-dab in the middle of one that’s just as bad or worse, all because of indoctrination points shared by both groups. (Source)

Cassidy shares an interesting Venn Diagram that shows the similarities and overlaps very nicely.

Bruce shares how the “methodology, techniques and promises” are very similar and then shares a list of characteristics that match between MLMs and Christianity.

  • Both attempt to befriend people in hopes of getting them to buy what they are selling.

  • Both attempt to manipulate emotions in hopes of making people sympathetic to their sales pitch.

  • Both attempt to bolster their sales spiel with stories of how wonderful their lives are since betting saved/joining MLM program.

  • Both attempt to appeal to prospective customers with promises of a better life.

  • Both promise lives of meaning, purpose, and helping others.

  • Both attempt to impress on people the importance of making an immediate decision.

  • Both leave literature if people want to think about it or are unwilling to make an immediate decision

It is curious that the Evangelical model is so similar to MLM because Amway, the big daddy of the MLM business is very much aligned to the evangelicals and their politics. It has funded the Republicans for very long and a long of their charity dollars go toward Christian evangelical organizations. Such Christians, of course, say that this is done by them for their own profitability and benefit from the political clout.

Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel’s Amway Corporation has its tentacles firmly planted in late-twentieth and early twenty-first century Republican Party politics. Masquerading as a Christian-oriented family enterprise, Amway leaders have made billions by selling a phony version of the American Dream, while bilking thousands of ordinary American dreamers out of their hard-earned life savings. The wealth of the founders has supported the nearly 30+ year conservative makeover of American society through millions of dollars in donations to the creation and development of right-wing institutions and causes. (Source)

So there is a strong link between the organizations which fund and in turn are promoted by the large MLM organizations. It is not a coincidence.

Evangelism is a big business and like MLM business it needs funding to succeed. Sustenance is possible with self-sustaining business models. And, that is the first thing that the evangelicals and the Christian apologists look for.

Let us for example watch this extremely informative video by David Wood, who has worked very hard to battle the Islamists and their proxies. Here he shares his goals and also the strategies that he suggests other evangelicals/apologists should use.

We can learn a lot from his ideas and thinking about how does one organize the Indic volunteers.

Watch it to the end and then rewatch it. And then again.

Dharma without enterprise and self-sustaining artha will be ill-served.

It’s the fundamentals stupid!

In Indian civilizational ethos - dharma, artha, kaam, moksha - were considered to be 4 purusharthas. These were important action groups that had to be in balance in life for a happy existence.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, we forgot dharma and moksha when we were after artha and kaam; or artha and kaam when we were stepping out for dharma and moksha. It doesn’t work that way.

If dharma and moksha is a side “business” and you have no sadhana behind you, the chances are that you will end up trivializing every aspect of our traditions that have helped each generation to at least be peaceful and push themselves towards moksha.

Let me give an example. I offer water from my home temple to the sun every morning. Across the deck, another secular Indian saw me doing that once. He mockingly asked - “Do you think your water will reach the sun?”

I retorted - “it wasn’t meant to. It was an act of gratefulness.”

“But you were praying to the sun by offering it water weren’t you?”

I said “No. Why would I pray to the sun? There is nothing to pray for. I was just offering my gratefulness.”

“Come on! Of course, you were praying!”

“No dude I wasn’t. Without the sun, there is no life. I am, you are, this solar system exists because of the sun! Isn’t that something to be thankful for? I owe my life to it.”

He tried to spin it further “That is your belief?”

“Is it? Are you one of those Sun-believing fools? That sun is the basis of life in the solar system is NOT a belief, you idiot. It is a scientific fact! Only idiots believe in the sun. Normal people can see it.”

Before he could recover, I went on - “And, what is the most precious thing I have? My life right? I cannot offer that in gratitude for the purpose will be gone. So what is the next most precious thing I can offer?”

“Umm.. your wealth?”

“Really? Ask that from someone who is dying! The next most precious thing that sustains my life is water. That is why everyone looks for water on Mars or Moon. Water means life. So, every morning in my gratitude to the sun, that makes everything possible, I offer the most precious thing I have access to - water. Saying that this is the best I have. Please accept my offering of thankfulness. I don’t pray! God for me is not a broker that I have to make deals with. That is stupid, adharmic, and certainly has nothing to do with Hinduism. Only idiots do such nonsense!”

Believing and praying are two things that our ethos never succumbed to.

Over the years, the foreign “Indologists” have bastardized our own traditional narratives to ingrain this nonsense in us.

Shri Ram is supposedly an ideal for many. Yet, none of us bothers to even read what he was taught by his Guru, Rishi Vasistha. Read it here - “9 Truths on Fate and Destiny that Lord Ram’s Guru Taught Him

Rishi Vasistha explains this to a 16-year-old Shri Ram in this way:

Fate or divine dispensation is merely a convention that has come to be regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this god or fate is truly the ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action (even like bathing, speaking, or giving), and whom should one teach at all? No. In this world, except a corpse, everything is active and such activity yields its appropriate result. No one has ever realized the existence of fate or divine dispensation.

And just to underscore that point further, he reiterates:

One who says “Fate is directing me to do this” is brainless.

Which unfortunately most of us have become.

That friend of mine was brought up on half-truths and nonsense like “water offering to the sun is praying to the sun by giving it water.”

How tough would it have been to puncture that logic by anyone and convert him?

Elementary.

Dharma is complex in logical terms and almost heartless and ruthless when it comes to seeking the truth. There is no interventionist god who is there to help or curse you. If such a being existed, some space probe must have found him. As far as we know, no telescope or space probe has ever seen someone with a sign saying “God here.” And, except for the delusional, no one has claimed he or she is god.

Our tradition understood god in terms of Hiranyagarbha, the womb of consciousness. That which manifests existence as Srishti, and not Kriti. (Please read this newsletter for more details - “Srishti, Not Kriti!”)

So, if the ocean of consciousness manifests the wave of existence, what will it give from where to whom? That is why the verse - ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते | पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते || ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

So, seek.

Do not believe.

With this return to the two questions about my friend: 1) how a person so seemingly devout was converted (2) and then made to hate what he was most regularly devoted to, or so one thought.

The answer seems obvious now. He was never devoted to whoever his isht was. He was merely believing. He was never seeking the truth.

If you understand the power of “I don’t know” or “Neti, Neti” - and follow your seeking to the point of its logical end; then will any story work?

But if you are satisfied with a story, then eventually, there will come someone, who is in the business of story-making - with a much better story. Your half-baked, hardly sincere story will look juvenile. While their infantile crap with lots of spin over centuries will be told with the right nuances. The result is pre-determined.

So the answer is not to believe a story. The answer is to seek and know the Truth. Once you want to know the Truth, stories will only add to the irritation.

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Truly understand the power of search for Truth.

nota bene

CBI, ED, and NCB on Sushant Singh case: Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty was grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday for over 10 hours in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. This is the first time that the CBI questioned Rhea in connection with Sushant’s death since the central agency took charge of the case on August 19. Rhea’s brother Showmik Chakraborty was also questioned by the CBI on Thursday. Sushant’s friend Siddharth Pithani was also summoned by the CBI. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned Goa businessman Gaurav Arya in the alleged money-laundering case. The Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) sought details of the case from ED. (Source)

Chinese cannot resist Indian steel: India’s steel exports more than doubled between April and July to hit their highest level in at least six years, boosted by a surge of Chinese buying in defiance of tensions between Beijing and New Delhi. (Source)

AI Jesus: An engineer has created a so-called “ AIJesus ” that has poured over The Bible and produced its own bizarre verses. It was told to write about just three topics – The Plague, Ceasar, and The End of Days – by creator George Davila Durendal. Approximately 60,000 words have been produced by the program as of August 26. Some of the work is nonsensical, but eerily echoes the style of Biblical scripture. (Source)

Sperms and Smartphones: Numerous studies link smartphone or tablet use at night to trouble falling asleep. Now, a new study finds yet another compelling reason to avoid such gadgets before bed — at least for men who hope to one day start a family. New research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes a correlation between nighttime digital media use and poor sperm quality. These preliminary results suggest that the more often a man uses digital devices, both in the evening in general and after bedtime, the more his sperm quality will decline. Among studied males who reported regular and copious electronic device use at night, three measures of sperm quality (concentration, motility, and progressive motility) were lower. (Source)

adult talk - Sushant Singh case

After the utterly useless PR campaign with supplicating Rajdeep Sardesai taking his time to beautify a turd at the instructions of his masters, we finally have something serious in this discussion by Harish Salve.

Before we go there, let us understand the full context of Rajdeep Sardesai and the media house he is linked to. Here is a thread by Rakesh Krishnan Simha with his revelations.

Just click on the tweet above and go through the entire thread. It is instructive and true.

And, then watch the video and listen to Harish Salve. What he says finally makes sense of the arguments and counter-arguments that the media anchors have been trading.

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